Neuroanesthesia and Social Media: An Unmissed Opportunity for Growth, Education, and Staying Connected!

Arnoley S. Abcejo, MD
Assistant Professor of Anesthesiology
Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative Medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota

Arnoley S. Abcejo, MD
Arnoley S. Abcejo, MD


It is 2019. The “old giants” of social media, Facebook and YouTube, are almost a decade and a half old. What seems like the newer kid on the block, Twitter®, has been out too for nearly a decade, but its ability to transmit information to millions of people in an instant has drastically impacted the way we communicate and gather information. In medicine, many specialties have found social media as a productive medium for broadcasting quality novel journal articles, collaborating and expanding research, and helping individuals, societies, and organizations to establish a marketable identity. Many in the anesthesia community have embraced social media for those reasons — with great success. In fact, the latest hashtag, #ANES18, for the Annual 2018 American Society of Anesthesiologists (ASA) meeting, spurred millions of Twitter impressions by the last day of the conference!2

Neuroanesthesiologists are not too far behind! At the last SNACC meeting, neuroanesthesiologists, neuroscientists, and neurointensivists engaged in a dynamic meeting in San Francisco on Twitter. Tens of thousands of impressions were created within just two days. But can we improve? How can social media (#SoMe) help us gather and synthesize the best information? How can it connect us on a day-to-day basis? Can we impact best practices to promote brain health and stimulate research in neuroscience? In this article, I aim to review the use of social media in medicine, describe the potential benefits of social media for the academic and non-academic neuroanesthesiologist and provide examples of best practices for everyday use.


Though it may seem like everything on the internet today has a short, finite half-life, it appears medicine through social media is not one of them. The vast majority of Americans utilize some form of social media — almost 75% across all age groups use at least YouTube.1 Only ~25% of the population utilize Twitter. However, if you look only at the 18-24 year age group, (i.e. our future colleagues in medicine), almost half use Twitter on a daily basis. Moreover, these numbers have been rising or steady for the past decade.

In healthcare, social media has a powerful niche. According to another Pew Review, patients regularly utilize social media for healthcare not only for where to find answers, but also who, how, and what to ask their healthcare provider.3 Hospitals have embraced social media. Hospitals with a robust social media presence may improve their reputation among patients.4 Mayo Clinic has studied its footprint within social media and has found a new ability to reach millions worldwide, connect patients with rare diseases and promote its marketable initiatives.5

Within anesthesiology, Twitter continues to be one of the most popular platforms for messaging and communicating for healthcare professionals. Moreover, Twitter use, measured by the number of impressions, has increased dramatically compared to just four years ago. This year, the 2018 ASA conference had a reach of 6.1 million Twitter users, resulting in more than 31 million impressions.2


The question remains, “What’s in it for me?” As anesthesiology professionals, time is a precious commodity. However, I would argue that time spent accessing and utilizing social media can be not only efficient, but also extremely valuable professionally. Social media and Twitter use can help keep you well-informed, engaged professionally and promote your medical success:

  • Vetted access to influential journal articles (#MedEd): Twitter offers an opportunity to keep us up to date with relevant, just-breaking research articles and news — vetted by the scholars we know and trust. Any time a neuro-tweetologist or journal (ex: JNA, JAMA, Neurology) posts, retweets, likes or comments on an article, I will likely see it on my Twitter newsfeed and be able to retweet, like or comment too. As something that I try to incorporate in my daily habit, this allows me to keep up-to-date with much of the literature and save them for future references.
  • Access to movements in anesthesia and medicine: Common within social media are “social media movements,” i.e. trending topics. One popular one is the #SheforShe and #HeforShe movement, encouraging mentoring of women clinicians for career development and promotion. SNACC joined this movement with its #WINNER initiative (Women in Neuroanesthesiology and Neuroscience Education and Research).
  • Attending conferences without attending conferences: Each major conference usually has a tag (ex: #SNACC2018 or #ANES2018) that allows people not at the conference to follow.
  • Opportunity for collaboration: Twitter and social media transcend normal physical boundaries of collaboration. For example, Ed Mariano (@EMarianoMD) spoke at the 2018 SNACC Annual Meeting, referencing up to nine articles borne strictly from social media collaboration and online work.
  • Improve your impact factor: By utilizing social media to promote and distribute journal articles, journal impact factor may increase with strong social media presence.6
  • Academic promotion impact: The impact of social media on research, education, and clinical practice has not gone unnoticed by academic institutions. Academic promotions committees have begun to consider or already have incorporated social media scholarship into advancement of academic careers.7


Still, it may be overwhelming to dive headfirst into a daunting open-world abyss like Twitter. Here are some examples of SNACC’s own Neuro-Tweetologists and how they manage their own Twitter-verse (Figure 1).


Twitter Usage

Notice how with each example, the involvement with social media escalates gradually — but the return on investment can as well! Other good follows are listed in Table 1.


Twitter Handle


Twitter Handle

Dr. Reza Gorji


J of Neurosurg Anes


Dr. Fenghua Li




Dr. Dhanesh Gupta


JAMA Neurology






SNACC President


Lancet Neurology


Anesthesia Patient Safety Foundation (APSF)


J of Neurosurgery






Dr. Arney S. Abcejo, @asabcejo: the Passive Twitter Observer  
I am {mostly} a passive user of social media and YOU CAN BE TOO! I read Twitter like the news. I scroll through the tweets of influential people, news outlets and anesthesia organizations to obtain the most up-to-date news and journal articles. I will retweet or like an article or tweet that I feel is engaging or important — not so much to gain attention, but to encourage the person who tweeted. I tend to follow leaders in the field (some listed below) who help vet and showcase the most hot-topic, controversial, and impactful journal articles in perioperative neuroscience and neurocritical care.

Dr. Andrew Kofke, @AndrewKofke: the Twitter Professor
Dr. Kofke joined Twitter only four years ago. However, he is followed by over 500 people and only following 200—suggesting his tweets are influential and people want to hear them. He does a superior job adding novel insight to tweeted journal articles. 

Dr. Alana Flexman, @AlanaFlex: the self-proclaimed “Re-Tweeter
Dr. Flexman is a perfect example of the next step towards excellence on social media. She has been on Twitter for the last eight years and has earned more than 1,000 followers by simply retweeting tweets others have tweeted. Over time, she has relied less on creating content to gain followers; however, others, such as myself, have found that she is a dependable source of information by vetting the best information for me to read.

Drs. Deepak Sharma @deepak_neuro and David Highton @david_highton: Top Tier Neuroanesthesia Tweetologists
These two individuals are followed by thousands on Twitter. They regularly like, retweet, respond and engage others on Twitter. Their voices matter and people follow them to hear or read what they have to endorse. They also are excellent at engaging others into a Twitter conversation or movement — by hashtagging others (ex: #HeforShe) or by tagging others from different spheres into their tweets, i.e. others in different anesthesia specialties or other influential people from neurology and neurocritical care.

Twitter and social media provide a valuable opportunity to anesthesiologists, particularly us in neuroanesthesia and neurocritical care whose community is small, but passionate, engaged and uniquely diverse. We should continue to lead our specialty to become the most influential voice in perioperative brain health. We already command the literature in safety and neuromonitoring for neurosurgical and non-neurosurgical practices. And now social media can allow us to all grow together.


  1. Pew Research Society. A Smith and M Anderson. “Social Media Use in 2018” 2018. Accessed October 3, 2018.
  2. LifeWire Group Twitter Account. Accessed November 10, 2018.
  3. Y Pershad, Hangge PT, Albadawi H, Oklu R. Social Medicine: Twitter in Healthcare. J Clin Medicine. 2018; (7) 121.
  4. JD Triemstra, Poeppelman RS, AroraVM. Correlations between hospitals’ social media presence and reputation score and ranking: cross-sectional analysis. J Med Internet Res. 2018; 8;20(11):e289.
  5. Kotsenas AL, Aase L , Arce M, Timimi FK, Dacy M, Young C, Wald JT. The social media DNA of Mayo Clinic and health care. J Am Coll Radiol. 2018; 15(1 Pt B): 162-6.
  6. O’Kelly F, Nason GJ, Manecksha RP, Cascio S, Quinn F, Leonard M, Koyle MA, Farhat W, Leveridge MJ. The effect of social media (#SoMe) on journal impact factor and parental awareness in paediatric urology. J Pediatr Urol. 2017; 13(5):513.e1-513.
  7. Cabrera D, Roy D, Chisolm MS. Social Media Scholarship and Alternative Metrics for Academic Promotion and Tenure. J Am Coll Radiol. 2018; 15(1 Pt B):135-141.

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